Updated: Feb 14, 2019
As Bobby and I meandered through the quagmire which is Reformed Baptist, we began to become very disheartened by the emphasis, not only in the Lord’s Supper but also on the law and how great a place it took even within the preaching of sermons, writings of books and blogs and videos. Over and over we heard the law of God so that we would know what God requires of us; so that we would know we were sinners. Then, when we came to the Table it was more Law: “Do this because I command it. There’s nothing to truly feed you on, but you have to do it to remember what I’ve done.” Was it a special time? Yes. Many within the reformed Baptists would remind us that it is the feast for the children of the Kingdom and they did, rightfully, “fence the table” but it did not offer the believer anything actually, just a memory. In the Baptist view (aka Zwinglian view) the Lord’s Supper is nothing more than a picture and memorial. So often I would walk out of a church service feeling truly hungry for Christ. I’d heard the sermon, ate the bread and drank from the cup and yet, deep inside, I was starving for more. In my heart, I knew the Lord’s Supper was something more.
Throughout my Christian life I have had moments where I thought, these elements of the Lord’s Supper are more than what they are. It was deep within my heart and in my mind that would not be shaken; something more is here at the Lord’s Table, something more than a memorial or symbol.
Heidelberg: A Spiritual Meal ONLY
The Heidelberg has much to say about the Lord’s Supper. This catechism was commissioned by Frederick III of the Palatinate who is referred to as both a Philippist Luterhan and a ‘latent Crypto-Calvinist’. Both of these positions evidence that though Frederick III had converted to Lutheranism under the encouragement of his wife, Maria, princess of Brandenburg-Kulmback, he did not hold Martin Luther’s view on the Lord’s Supper and adhered to the Variata, or the Revised Augsburg Confession of 1540 in which, without authority from the princes who signed the original, Philip Melanchthon altered the Augsburg Confession. Prince Frederick III spent approximately 30 days in a locked room, with on the Scriptures, to determine what Jesus meant by “This is my body…This is my blood.” He came out, having great influence by both Calvin and Melanchthon in the past, believing Jesus did not mean “this is My Body…this is My Blood” but instead, it was a symbol and spiritual feeding only.
Here is what the Catechism teaches:
75. Q. How does the Lord's supper signify and seal to you that you share in Christ's one sacrifice on the cross and in all his gifts?
A. In this way:
Christ has commanded me and all believers
to eat of this broken bread and drink of this cup
in remembrance of him. With this command he gave these promises:
First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me
and the cup given to me, so surely was his body offered for me and his blood poured out for me on the cross.
Second, as surely as I receive from the hand of the minister and taste with my mouth the bread and the cup of the Lord as sure signs of Christ's body and blood, so surely does he himself nourish and refresh my soul to everlasting life with his crucified body and shed blood.
What does it mean
to eat the crucified body of Christ
and to drink his shed blood?
A. First, to accept with a believing heart
all the suffering and the death of Christ,
and so receive forgiveness of sins and life eternal.
Second, to be united more and more to his sacred body through the Holy Spirit,
who lives both in Christ and in us.
Therefore, although Christ is in heaven
and we are on earth, yet we are flesh of his flesh
and bone of his bones, and we forever live and are governed by one Spirit, as the members of our body are by one soul.
77. Q. Are then the bread and wine changed into the real body and blood of Christ?
Just as the water of baptism
is not changed into the blood of Christ
and is not the washing away of sins itself
but is simply God's sign and pledge,
so also the bread in the Lord's supper
does not become the body of Christ itself,
although it is called Christ's body
in keeping with the nature and usage of sacraments. 
It’s spiritual bread and wine. This now was giving me something more than just a memorial and symbolism. In the Reformed view the Lord’s Supper was something more, it was a spiritual feeding. Believers were being fed spiritually on Christ. How? Well, in a strange way, when a believer partook of the elements they were spiritually lifted to where Christ is; heaven.
Vacuous Sacraments that actually do nothing for you
The Calvinist and Zwingli view is that the Institution of the Lord’s Supper, those words, This is my body…this is my blood, are spiritual. In actuality, these mean nothing other than that the spirit of Christ or the power of Christ’s absent body is what is present but the True Body and True Blood are not present. “They pretend that they also believe a true presence of the true essential living body and blood of Christ in the holy supper however they say that this happens spiritually through faith.” In reality both the Zwinglians and Calvinists may state that the body and blood are spiritually present nevertheless they deny that the true blood and true body are present in with and under the bread.
The Calvinists or reformed say that we should elevate ourselves into heaven by our thoughts through our faith and that in heaven is where we should seek Christ’s body and blood. They deny that Christ is on the present because they believe that Christ since his resurrection in his glorified body can only be in one place at one time. Honestly, I barely knew this was the position of the Dutch Reformed as I don’t think it was ever fully explained. Yet, as I researched I found more and more reformed and Presbyterian ministers teaching that in the Lord’s Supper the believer is brought up to heaven, spiritually, and partakes of Christ that way. Huh? Not to sound harsh, but the charismatic often spoke of “trips to heaven”. This had to be a misunderstanding on my part. So, I researched more.
Rev. Gunn, a Presbyterian ministers explains Calvin’s view, that we are brought up to heaven and fed spiritually when he wrote,
According to this view, the bread and wine represent the body and blood of Jesus. They do not in any way become the literal body and blood themselves…when we partake of the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Spirit uses the symbolic message that Jesus is our spiritual nourishment, to strengthen our faith in Jesus… The Holy Spirit accomplishes this is a way beyond our understanding, not through Jesus’ coming down to earth at this time, but through our mystically ascending to heaven.
In Calvin’s Institutes he clarifies that the Lord’s Supper is a sacrament, a visible sign of a sacred thing” and that is is also a “visible Word of God” and is given to believers as a sign (symbol) of the promises of God only for those who in true faith, believing the Gospel, partake of the elements. He consistently connects it with the mystical union believers have in Christ. Accordingly, Calvin rejects that Christ is actually present but is rather spiritually present yet it is the believer who is brought to Heaven not Christ to earth. Calvin argues along with the Baptist that when Jesus said, “This is my body” it is “the name of the thing signified (“body”) applied to the sign (the bread)…” not the actually True Body of Christ. For the Reformed, whether Presbyterian or Dutch, Calvinists hold to explaining what Jesus meant and reject what Jesus actually said. They believe that the Holy Spirit accomplishes in the spirit what is only signified in the earthly meal. Calvin would call this a spiritual eating which meant that by faith believers partake of the Body and Blood through the power of the Spirit but they were not actually eating and drinking the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What does the Bible Say?
What I love about Lutherans is their approach to the teachings and doctrines of the Church. When I would ask my pastor, “What is your view on such and such?” His answer was always, “Well, let’s see what the Bible has to say about that.” Isn’t that wonderful? No more looking at man’s opinion but rather looking into the Word of God. So, et’s see what the Bible has to say about the Lord’s Supper.
Where is this written? The holy evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul right:
Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when he was betrayed, took bread and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: quote take, eat; this is my body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of me.
In the same way also he took the cup after supper, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, is often as you drink it, in remembrance of me
Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 1 Corinthians 10:18
Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. 1 Corinthians 11:27-32
Read the middle one again. Don’t try to figure it out but read the text as Paul wrote it. What is he saying here? Well, not to repeat the Apostle but he is saying, Isn’t the cup a sharing in the Blood of Christ? Isn’t the bread a sharing in the Body of Christ? Notice how he did not say, Isn’t the cup a symbol or memorial of the Blood and of the Bread. He says, emphatically that they are the True Body and True Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As I grow in grace and knowledge, by God’s mercy, I am finding that what I had either dismissed as “Well, God could not really have meant that…” or “There’s got to be a spiritual interpretation for this…” is now, Wow! God really did say that. I’ve learned too, that what Jesus says is important because you cannot sever the words of Christ from the Gifts of His Gospel and Grace.
Luther was adamant, and so must we be, that we must believe the words Jesus spoke if he said about the bread, this is my body and then this is the true body of our Lord Jesus Christ. If Jesus said this cup is for the forgiveness of sins, then forgiveness of sins is in with and under the cup when Jesus called the cup the New Testament in his blood and spoke of the wine as his blood, he meant what he said. The ancient church looked at the sacrament of the altar as medicine for the soul. They didn’t quibble over how Jesus is present in with and under the elements. They simply accepted it and so must we.
Martin Chemnitz in his work on the Lord’s supper writes,
For what purpose and used it Christ and his supper distribute these elements to be received by the communicants and what is the salutary use or what is the spiritual benefit of those things we receive in the supper from Christ who distributes them? This point is treated in these words of the institution quote this do in remembrance of me” that is, remember that my body which you are receiving was given for you in the blood which you are drinking which shed for you for the remission of sins; and also in these words: this cup is the New Testament in my blood” these words do not speak of some historical , cold, or idle memory, but of true faith, which lays hold of and applies to itself Christ with all his merits and benefits for reconciliation, salvation, and eternal life.
We eat this bread and drink this cup,
Your precious Word believing
That Your True Body and Your Blood
Our lips are here receiving.
This Word remains forever true,
All things are possible with You,
For You are Lord Almighty
Though reason cannot understand,
Yet faith this truth embraces:
Your body, Lord, is even now
At once in many places.
I leave to You how this can be;